‘Sirius’ is an open-source take on Siri and other digital assistants

BY Evan Selleck

Published 16 Mar 2015

Sirius digital assistant

Digital assistants have become quite the norm as of recent, all thanks to Apple’s Siri. But they’re limited in their scope, or sometimes even platform.

While Siri is attached to iOS, but Google Now is present on Android and Apple’s mobile OS, and rumors suggest Microsoft’s Cortana could be coming to iOS and Android soon, too, there’s still an opening for a truly open-source digital assistant in the world. And that’s where “Sirius” comes in, which is currently under development at the University of Michigan’s Clarity Lab. The National Science Foundation is backing the project, and so is the United States’ military research wing, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

The main idea behind Sirius is to let anyone contribute to the program, to continue to build its quality and usefulness. It can be access through GitHub, and the researchers are releasing it under a BSD license, which means the project is free for anyone to use or contribute to. Right now, Sirius is meant to reveal some ins-and-outs of digital assistants, the possibilities of such, but eventually putting it on a device is part of the plan.

Right now, Sirius is being tested on Ubuntu desktops, but smartphones and tablets could eventually happen.

The functionality of Sirius is a bit of a patchwork mess right now, though, with some instances even more advanced than Siri, including being able to upload a picture and ask a question about it, and having Sirius respond:

Sirius already has capabilities lacking from its corporate counterparts. For example, you can take a picture, feed it to Sirius, and ask a question about it. Siri can’t do that. But, unlike Siri, Sirius isn’t exactly elegant; it’s a patchwork of other open source projects that, when stitched together, give Sirius its capabilities.

Check out a video talking about Sirius below.

What do you think of the idea? Is this the future of digital assistants?

[via Motherboard]